I’m really enjoying these different history posts I’ve been doing lately. I’m not trying to do one every month but it kind of just happens. The last one about King Richard III and King Henry VII was completely accidental, I actually wanted to do this first but I needed to think about how the other post would do with my audience and so I decided to wait a bit.
Queen Mary I is the oldest daughter of King Henry VIII and Spanish princess Katherine of Aragon. After Katherine declined to annual her marriage to Henry so he could marry his mistress and one of her ladies-in-waiting Anne Boleyn. She was set away from court and was forced to stay away from their daughter. They were technically still married to as he secretly wed Anne and after Katherine passed Princess Mary was then considered a bastard and lost her way to inherit the throne.
Henry had a total of six siblings, but only two of his sisters survived to adulthood. The youngest, Princess Mary was married to Louis XI of France but they didn’t last very long when he died shortly after. When she came back to England, she secretly married Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk who was one of her brother’s best friends. Since they also married in secret, they had to pay a hefty fine to the King for not asking him for permission to marry. Mary and Charles had a total of four children. The only male heirs who were both named Henry died young, but daughters Lady Eleanor and Lady Frances survived to adulthood.
Lady Frances Brandon married Henry Grey, the Marquess of Dorset (who was the great-great-grandson of Elizabeth Woodville and her first first husband Thomas Grey) they had a total of three daughters themselves: Lady Jane, Lady Catherine and Lady Mary. The girls were King Henry VIII’s great-nieces and they were born into a Protestant family. Now I don’t know that much about Lady Jane Grey, only that she was put into succession in King Edward VI’s will and she was married to Lord Robert Dudley. This is all I really know of this part of her personal life.
Lady Jane Grey was the granddaughter of the sister of the former King of England and born into a Protestant family, so she had the means to keep the religion afloat until Queen Mary sent her troops into England and she arrested Jane and her husband and father for their crimes for going against the Act of Succession that clearly states that once Edward died, she would rule after him. Edward had tried to bypass this law and basically threw her into the woods. Jane is known as the “nine day queen” because she only had nine days on the throne of England. To historians, she’s the usurper because she went around the law, but I don’t see it that way.
When Henry finally had his son and kept marrying these other women to make sure he had another “male” heir in case Edward did not survive, which he didn’t and Edward died at the same age as Henry’s older brother Prince Arthur. The kingdom roughly should have went to the Lady Mary, since as Henry got older he did put both Mary and Elizabeth back in line of succession. However, something has always made me wonder, when King Henry renounced the Catholic faith, why did he put Mary back in line to the throne when he knew she still practiced the religion? Did he grow to regret his decision to create the Church of England or did he only do it, so she wouldn’t leave for Spain or France and start a war with her half brother and her homeland?
England was practicing both religions, let’s be honest about here. Lady Jane could have kept the faith but when Queen Mary came and had her killed for trying to go around the law, she brought Catholicism back. In her reign, Mary set ablaze to the Protestant martyrs and with that, she gained the nickname “Bloody Mary” because she killed over hundreds of people for not accepting the true faith. After failing to give an heir with her Spanish husband King Phillip, England went back to being a Protestant kingdom with Queen Elizabeth I as she was the daughter of the reason why King Henry VIII had renounced the religion in the first place.
So I do get the fact that Jane was put on the throne after Edward went around the Act but I doubt she wanted that role or knew what would happen to her after those nine days, but I wouldn’t call her a usurper. Mary was a devout Catholic and was going to change the religion back after her father spent so much time and effort into it. I often think even if Mary wasn’t put back in line anyways, she obviously had the resources to create an army anyways, she would have fought for that crown.
So what do you think, who is the real usurper? Lady Jane Grey or Queen Mary I?